Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) Accessibility
Communication between the Hearing and the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) worlds has been quite complex amid this pandemic. Those who use hearing aid devices such as hearing aids and cochlear implants may find it hard to communicate with those behind their masks. For example, I find it hard to understand what others are saying behind their masks since their speech becomes too muffled. Although, I rather have them wear their masks to protect both of us.
A couple of ways a Hearing person can do to make communication more accessible are writing down notes on your phone or wearing transparent masks. While transparent masks aren’t used in everyday settings, it is definitely a game-changer in medical settings. If an American Sign Language interpreter is not available to be scheduled in time for a medical appointment, the medical staff can switch to transparent masks in which communication accessibility becomes easier to navigate.
There is a common notion that one must raise their voice but in truth, that does not help. Instead, it could create a stressful situation in which the DHH individual must accommodate the Hearing person’s need to communicate. Communication accessibility should not be stressful because communicating with others is essential to our well-being, especially during these times.
Our guest blogger is Mia Garcia, a senior at Saint Mary's College, doing community engagement work with Genesis. She currently uses ASL interpreters.